I love to cook. I love to blog. I love to be with the people I love. And last month, my dear friend and housemate Michelle figured out a way to combine all three of these loves into one amazing birthday present. She offered to teach me how to make mushroom risotto, one of her culinary specialties, and (be still my beating heart) said I could feature the dish on the Sprout Diaries. And so may I present this week’s guest chef: Michelle Weiss.
A week or so after my birthday, Michelle arrived in our kitchen with a bagful of beautiful groceries and a whole lot of knowledge on best risotto-making practice. Patiently, she explained the steps and, for the benefit of my readers, estimated measurements even though she never once picked up a measuring spoon or cup. I’m not positive I could recreate the recipe as deftly as she did without her there to guide me along (and now that she’s moved to Japan for a year, it’s hard to say when we’ll again get the chance), but I’m certainly more confident with a box of arborio rice than I was before.
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 2/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
salt & pepper
2 8 oz. packages of white button mushrooms
1 8 oz. package of shiitake mushrooms
2 1/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 drops truffle oil
dried parsley to garnish
We begin, as always, with some chopping. After gently rubbing the mushrooms clean with a dry towel (never wash mushrooms, says Chef Michelle), slice them thinly, then mince the garlic and finely chop the shallots. (Note: you can be creative with what kind of mushrooms you’d like to use. Maybe a portobello? Maybe a morel? Go crazy!)
In a large pot, heat the butter and oil. Add the garlic and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Next add the dried herbs and salt and pepper. Chef Michelle says that traditional risotto calls for thyme and sage, but you should feel free to substitute with a variety of herbs, such as rosemary or oregano.
Next add the mushrooms. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid, about 3-5 minutes.
Next add the rice. Cook for just one minute, or until rice grains are opaque. Add the white wine. Note: while you could substitute arborio rice for another type of rice and still produce something edible, it’s highly recommended that you stick with the classic. Arborio rice is the starchiest breed of rice, which accounts for that incredibly creamy texture of risotto.
Now for the real time consuming part. Begin adding broth to the pot in just 1/2 cup increments. After each addition, cook while stirring occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue this painstaking process until all 6 cups of broth have been added. This may take a while. Be patient.
Finally, remove from heat and stir in the cream and the grated Parmesan. Very (very) carefully, add four drops of truffle oil and stir. Truffle oil is powerful stuff, and you do NOT want to overdo it. Et voila! You’ve got yourself some very delicious (and impressive) mushroom risotto (a la Michelle).
You may want to add a sprinkling of dried parsley and more cheese to the finished product, for aesthetics of course.
We served this decadent dish alongside thick slides of good bread and a colorful salad. You can imagine that it wasn’t too hard to find housemates to eat it.
Because Michelle is an extra amazing person, she also prepared (ahead of time) a peach raspberry cobbler topped with homemade biscuits to finish off the meal. Although she baked the cobbler without a camera-trigger-happy Sprout to document the process, she was kind of enough to snap a few shots for the blog. (Note how she sifts her flour like a true baker!)
The cobbler was divine, and a perfect salute to peach season. When an attempt at homemade whipped cream backfired (blame the fact that the hand mixer started smoking), we improvised with a few scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. Please promise me you’ll make some kind of peach dessert before the summer is out! It really is an August must.
Thank you, Michelle, for a fabulous birthday present!